In July 2022, the North America League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) announced the results of its investigation into Andy Dinh, the CEO and co-founder of esports organization TSM. The findings declared that “there was a pattern and practice of disparaging and bullying behavior exhibited by Andy Dinh toward TSM players and staff members.” Dinh was placed on a two-year probation and hit with a $75,000 fine, which was touted for its severity: The figure is three times the maximum fine for misconduct by an LCS member.
But in the six months since the results of the investigation were published, Riot Games, the developer behind “League of Legends” and the esports league’s operator, has failed to follow through on one enforcement mechanism outlined in the ruling: the implementation of a tip line for TSM employees to report potential infractions by Dinh.
In a statement to The Washington Post, Jen Neale, head of North American esports communications at Riot, wrote that the scope of the tip line had expanded since the ruling was issued, following conversations with the North American League Championship Series Players Association (LCSPA). LCSPA was the body that first fielded complaints about Dinh, before referring the matter to Riot on Nov. 12, 2021.
“After discussion with the LCSPA, we collectively decided to expand the tip line to all LCS players and staff,” wrote Neale. “The tip line will provide native language reporting for all players so that players and staff can converse — either by phone, email or through an app — in the language they feel most comfortable, and it will provide both anonymous and identified reporting. We are currently interviewing service providers.”
The tip line, announced as part of the ruling in July, was to ensure that Riot would find out if Dinh had violated LCS rules during his probation. Operated by an independent monitor, the tip line would empower all TSM employees — including those not on the esports side of the business — to report potential violations. TSM would also be required to notify all current and incoming employees about how to access the tip line, and explain why it was put in place. (The new tip line, Neale said, would similarly be open to all employees of any organization in the LCS.)
“TSM and Dinh have committed themselves to a culture shift within their organization and we want to provide space for that positive shift to occur,” read the 2022 LCS ruling. “However, we also want to ensure that should that shift not occur, the consequences within the Riot ecosystem are clear. Any finding by the LCS, or any other Riot governing body, that Dinh has violated our rules during this probation period will bring severely enhanced penalties.”
The six-month gap since the ruling was handed down represents a quarter of Dinh’s probationary period. In that time period, TSM has undergone several rounds of layoffs and the departures of a handful of VP-level executives. In May, current and former employees at TSM and Blitz, a software company owned by Dinh, told The Post that Dinh had cultivated a “culture of fear” in the workplace, resulting in a dramatic turnover rate.
After the news of the LCS’s investigation into Dinh was first reported by Wired in January 2022, efforts were made within TSM to implement an internal tip line using an anonymous reporting service such as AllVoices. But when Riot released their ruling, work on the internal tip line was halted to make way for Riot’s tip line.
Before the ruling was issued, the organization also sought out executive coaches for Dinh and a number of other senior employees, according to a former TSM executive who worked closely with Dinh and spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisal from TSM higher-ups.
In a statement, TSM spokesperson Gillian Sheldon said the organization had been responsive to Riot’s requests throughout the process.
“Not only have we openly shared our findings, we have consistently updated Riot on internal compliance,” Sheldon wrote. “Andy has completed his sensitivity training and executive coaching. As for the tip line, Riot is to provide us one to implement. To date, they have not provided it to us, and we’re waiting for next steps from them.”